No reported local cases yet, but local institutions are tracking coronavirus' impact in Delaware - Technical.ly Delaware

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Mar. 3, 2020 1:27 pm

No reported local cases yet, but local institutions are tracking coronavirus’ impact in Delaware

Eleven years after H1N1, local institutions — including ChristianaCare and the Delaware Division of Public Health — prepare for another possible pandemic.
Feeling sick? Step one: Stay home.

Feeling sick? Step one: Stay home.

(Photo by Pexels user Pixabay used under a Creative Commons license)

As of March 3, Delaware has yet to have a known case of COVID-19, better known as coronavirus, with two University of Delaware students and a third person testing negative in February. More recently, two Kent County residents tested negative, too, and those tests are being confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

While COVID-19 has not yet been declared a pandemic in the U.S., the CDC is preparing for the possibility. A COVID-19 pandemic would be the first since the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic in 2009, which caused approximately 12,500 deaths in the U.S. (seven in Delaware) and included state-delivered H1N1 vaccines to public schools in Delaware.

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. However, the CDC and the Delaware Division of Public Health recommend that everyone be vaccinated for influenza — a recommendation that is standard every flu season. It won’t prevent you from contracting COVID-19, but since the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough and shortness of breath) are also symptoms of influenza, fewer cases of influenza — which can also be deadly — means fewer people with COVID-19 symptoms. (Plus, it’s always better for those with compromised respiratory or immune systems to be protected by having fewer people with the flu, pandemic or no.)

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The CDC does not recommend that well people without symptoms wear face masks or respirator masks as a preventative, as masks are needed for people with symptoms and healthcare workers. And respirator masks can cause more harm than good if not used properly:

ChristianaCare has implemented an awareness campaign, and is prepared to vaccinate its staff against COVID-19 quickly when the vaccine is available: Last fall, the health network administered paperless flu shots to virtually all of of its staff in a single day as an outbreak preparedness drill.

Several colleges in U.S., including University of Delaware, have cancelled spring study abroad programs. UD students studying in Rome have been advised to return to the U.S. as soon as possible, where they will self-quarantine in their family homes for 14 days before returning to campus. Italy has been classified as Level 3 by the CDC after an outbreak in late February, and has recommended no nonessential travel to the country.

If you have traveled to China, Italy, South Korea or Iran in the past 14 days, with or without symptoms of COVID-19, call the Division of Public Health at 1-888-295-5156; others with symptoms of COVID-19/influenza should call their doctor and stay home from work.

To keep track of the confirmed COVID-19 stats in Delaware, visit the DE Division of Public Health’s coronavirus page, and follow the Delaware Department of Social Services on Twitter.

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